What is the best ISO for event photography?

Event photography often feels daunting to get into. There are so many moments, so many unique opportunities to capture, and so much pressure. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s debunk the first tricky question: what’s the best ISO for event photography?

ISO is the sensitivity of your digital sensor or film. The more sensitive it is, the less light you need to expose your shots properly. Most cameras range from 64 ISO to 25600 ISO.

So why not bump your ISO to 25600 all the time? 

Well, higher ISOs come with more noise in your photos. Discoloration of pixels that make your image less detailed and sharp.

The technology around sensors and ISO is improving, giving you less noise on higher ISO’s.

During events, you often have to work in darker conditions. Venues that could be better lit. Or kept dark for the mood, of course. So going to a higher ISO like 3200 or even 6400 isn’t uncommon.

It’s better to have a noisy photo than no photo at all. Of course, it’s still best to try and avoid noise, but sometimes you can’t help but get it.

Two solutions to ISO noise on event photos are flash and noise reduction.

Using a flash allows you to go lower in ISO when you take photos. You must buy a good flash and learn how to use it. I use the Godox V1—an easy flash to use and learn with.

Flashes are also helpful when a venue uses colored lights that don’t flatter the people there at all.

Noise reduction in Lightroom, especially the AI one, can help you reduce the noise in your photos afterward. Giving your images a crisp and clean look again. But it’s not a complete solution. Prevention is still better than reduction.

So, what is the best ISO for event photography? It’s any ISO that helps you get the shot. But be mindful of solutions to help you keep your ISO low.

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